World Malaria Day (WMD) is commemorated every year on 25 April and recognizes global efforts to control malaria. Globally, 3.3 billion people in 106 countries are at risk of malaria. In 2012, malaria caused an estimated 627,000 deaths, mostly among African children. Asia, Latin America, and to a lesser extent the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected.
World Malaria Day sprung out of the efforts taking place across the African continent to commemorate Africa Malaria Day. WMD is one of eight official global public health campaigns currently marked by the World Health Organization (WHO), along with World Health Day, World Blood Donor Day, World Immunization Week, World Tuberculosis Day, World No Tobacco Day, World Hepatitis Day and World AIDS Day.
World Malaria Day was established in May 2007 by the 60th session of the World Health Assembly, WHO’s decision-making body. The day was established to provide “education and understanding of malaria” and spread information on “year-long intensified implementation of national malaria-control strategies, including community-based activities for malaria prevention and treatment in endemic areas.”
Prior to the establishment of WMD, Africa Malaria Day was held on April 25. Africa Malaria Day began in 2001, one year after the historic Abuja Declaration was signed by 44 malaria-endemic countries at the African Summit on Malaria.
World Malaria Day allows for corporations (such as Exxon Mobile), multinational organizations (such as Malaria No More) and grassroots organizations (such as Mosquitoes Suck Tour) globally to work together to bring awareness to malaria and advocate for policy changes.
Each WMD focuses on a specific theme. The theme of World Malaria Day 2014 and in coming years is “Invest in the future: Defeat malaria.”
Goal: energize commitment to fight malaria
World Malaria Day was instituted by WHO Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. It is an occasion to highlight the need for continued investment and sustained political commitment for malaria prevention and control. It is also an opportunity:
- for countries in affected regions to learn from each other’s experiences and support each other’s efforts;
- for new donors to join a global partnership against malaria;
- for research and academic institutions to flag scientific advances to both experts and the general public; and
- for international partners, companies and foundations to showcase their efforts and reflect on how to further scale up interventions.
Global efforts to control and eliminate malaria have saved an estimated 3.3 million lives since 2000, reducing malaria mortality rates by 42% globally and 49% in Africa. Increased political commitment and expanded funding have helped to reduce malaria incidence by 25% globally, and 31% in Africa.
Malaria still kills an estimated 627 000 people every year, mainly children under 5 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2013, 97 countries had on-going malaria transmission.
Every year, more than 200 million cases occur; most of these cases are never tested or registered. Emerging drug and insecticide resistance threaten to reverse recent gains.
For more information:
- WHO’s work on malaria
- Fact sheet on malaria
- More information on malaria
- Roll Back Malaria Partnership
Sources: WHO, Wikipedia